The Gataverse team takes a team picture in their opening game of The Basketball Tournament. Photo courtesy of @gataverse_io on Twitter.

Gataverse Eliminated in Opening Round of TBT

Hype has been building around the Gataverse team of Florida men’s basketball alumni’s debut at The Basketball Tournament. The team was officially selected for the Louisville Regional June 21. Gators hoops fans across the world watched Tuesday as familiar faces competed with a chance at $1 million.

But all the hype culminated into just one game. The Gataverse squad fell 77-74 to the Shell Shock Maryland alumni team in the opening round of TBT. With the loss, the Gataverse team is eliminated and will have to look ahead to next year.

How it Happened

The two teams entered the game as the fourth and fifth seeds in their bracket, and the matchup lived up to the tight seeding. Both teams traded buckets in a scrappy matchup that featured two talented rosters of NCAA and NBA alumnus. Corey Brewer led the way for Gataverse with 27 points and nine rebounds. His defensive energy brought him four steals in a game where he looked like he was back in his championship days at UF. More recent former Gators, Philandrous Fleming Jr. and Noah Locke, kept up the scoring with 18 and 16 points, respectively.

Unfortunately for Gataverse, the offense ended there. No other player scored more than five points in the matchup.

Things were more even on the Shell Shock side. Darryl Morsell led with 18 points while Xavier Green followed up with 16 points. No player on the Shell Shock roster scored less than five points.

Despite the top-heavy contributions, Gataverse led 69-67 heading into the Elam Ending. The clock was turned off and a target score was set. Both teams traded buckets until it was 75-74 Shell Shock, making the next basket from either team a potential game-winner.

Gataverse hunted the 3-pointer to no avail. The possession broke down, opening up Morsell in transition for the winning layup. Shell Shock took the game 77-74 and moved on to the second round of the regional. The Gataverse team went home after just one appearance in the tournament.

What’s next

The Basketball Tournament is a single-elimination bracket, meaning the Gataverse team is out for good this year. The team will need to regroup for next year if it wants a shot at the $1 million.

Gataverse has plenty of options with no shortage of legendary former Gators. The team-leading performances from Brewer, Locke and Fleming leave fans hopeful for a return next year while the roster is retooled. The best-case scenario for Gataverse now is retooling the roster for a more competitive run next year.

For now, the Florida basketball world is on hold once again until November when the 2023-24 Florida men’s basketball team debuts.

About Jackson Castellano

Jackson Castellano is a third-year Sports Media Journalism student at the University of Florida.

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